The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. It is based in the Philosophy Department at Stockholm University and directed by Helen Frowe, who is Knut and Alice Wallenberg Fellow in Practical Philosophy.

SCEWP’s purpose is to explore the ethics of war and mechanisms for peace in the 21st century. Our research has two main strands:

Theoretical Approaches to War

This aspect of SCEWP’s research focuses on broad, theoretical issues concerning the nature of the morality of war. Historically, just war theory has been dominated by strongly collectivist approaches to war that treat war as a morally distinctive relationship between states. Adherents to this traditional view argue that, in at least some respects, war is to be judged by its own moral rules and cannot be judged by the moral rules that apply to individuals in ordinary life. For example, we might think that even when combatants are engaged in an unjust war, the fact that they are following the orders of their state makes their killings importantly morally different from unjust killings in ordinary domestic life.

In recent years, a revisionist view known as reductive individualism has challenged this collectivist approach to war. These revisionists believe that the moral rules governing war can, in fact, be reduced to the moral rules of ordinary life, and that the morality of war is to be understood in terms of the moral rights and duties of individuals – most obviously, their rights of self-defence and other-defence. This different theoretical approach to the moral underpinnings of war has undermined various central tenets of the traditional collectivist view. Research at SCEWP explores this debate and its implications for the ethics of war.

Practical Issues in War

SCEWP also carries out philosophically robust research concerning specific aspects of war and reconciliation, such as:

  • Just causes for war
  • The notion of legitimate authority
  • Civil war
  • Civilian immunity
  • Terrorism
  • The prosecution of war crimes
  • The use of UAVs (drones)
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Force protection and the distribution of risk in war

Through a series of conferences, workshops, public lectures and other events, the Centre aims to inform and improve public and policy debates about the ethics of war.

Bülow’s new paper, ‘Risking Civilian Lives to Avoid Harm to Cultural Heritage?’, published in JSEP

SCEWP post-doc, William Bülow, has a new paper out on whether it is morally permissible to impose non-negligible risks of serious harm  on innocent civilians in order not to endanger tangible cultural heritage during armed conflict.

As with all papers at the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, it is open access. Check it out here:

Published 28th September 2020

SCEWP hires new post-doc, Joseph Bowen!

We are delighted to announce that Joseph Bowen has joined us as Postdoctoral Researcher. Joe has recently finished his PhD at the University of St Andrews and University of Stirling. He specialises in moral and political philosophy, focusing on the nature of rights, directed duties, and permissible harming. Find out more about Joe here.

Published 4th August 2020

Symposium on Causation in War

Symposium on Causation in War‘, a result of SCEWP and Kings College London’s ‘Conversations on War’ project, is out now in the Journal of Applied Philosophy! Check out articles by Carolina Sartorio, Helen Beebee & Alex Kaiserman, and Lars Christie, with an introduction from Helen Frowe & Massimo Renzo.

The Conversations on War project ‘explores how philosophers working on the ethics of war can draw on researchin other areas of philosophy to improve our accounts of harming in war and how research on the ethics of war might challenge or illuminate work in those other areas.The first instance of this project brought together a broad group of philosophers: Helen Frowe, Massimo Renzo, Victor Tadros, Yitzhak Benbaji, Helen Beebee, David Owens, Carolina Sartorio, Lars Christie, James Goodrich, Seth Lazar, Adam Slavny, Hagit Benbaji, François Tanguay-Renaud, Lisa Hecht, Alexander Kaiserman, and Gustaf Arrhenius.’

Published 4th August 2020

SCEWP director Helen Frowe awarded 8.75M SEK Wallenberg Academy Fellowship extension

Helen Frowe has been awarded a five-year prolongation of her Wallenberg Academy Fellowship from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Over the next five years, she will develop an account of the ethics of foreign intervention. The project will explore the relationship between agent-relative prerogatives and duties to save, the permissibility of wars of intervention, and the ethics of indirect intervention, such as arming and training members of rebel groups. Information about events and vacancies will appear on the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace website.

Published 4th December 2017

Ethical War Blog Post Wins Prize!

Congratulations to Michael Robillard (Oxford) and Bradley Strawser (Naval Postgraduate School) whose post “Are Soldiers Morally Exploited?” won the the American Philosophical Association’s (APA) 2017 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest. See here for more details.

Published 1st July 2017